PITTSBURGH–Pressley Ridge student Natalie Winters, 19, has been recognized by Goodwill Industries of Pittsburgh for her progress in the Transition WORKS program. She was one of 13 program participants to win a Goodwill Achievement Award for 2005.
Natalie has autism and other syndromes that are significant to how she experiences the world but not important to those who know her. Her energy, wit and sharp memory have made her popular among staff and students at Pressley Ridge DaySchool, which she has been attending for nine years. She lives with her parents in the Mt. Washington area of Pittsburgh.
Natalie functions in the high range for her diagnosis, and music and art are her favorite classes. She is part of the transitional living program, which helps Pressley Ridge students move to independent living by acquiring functional, mobility and job skills.
“Natalie was a leader in her daily living skills class, establishing a rapport with other students. She helped them with everything from tying shoes to cooking Italian dinners,” says T.J. Conley, coordinator of program services for Pressley Ridge.
The Pressley Ridge students also worked for local community businesses. “We folded pizza boxes,” says Natalie. “We got paid in money, and in pizza.”
Natalie now works part time in the Goodwill store, sorting and hanging clothes. She attended classes for three days during her last school year, a schedule that will shift toward more work as she enters her final year at Pressley Ridge next fall.
Natalie has been part of Goodwill’s Transition WORKS vocational training program since March 2003. Through this program, in-school youth with disabilities are provided with real, hands-on work opportunities with Goodwill Industries of Pittsburgh programs, and through businesses, offices, and community-based partners. Jennifer Bowman is supervisor of youth services for Goodwill.
“Natalie has achieved many things while at Goodwill Industries, including improving the quality and productivity of her work. Natalie is also someone with her eyes on the future. She is working toward improving her work while increasing independence from support staff,” said Bowman.
Through Goodwill, Natalie also worked at an organic farm in Natrona Heights, which she describes as “seeds, mulch and chicken eggs.” She loves animals and likes helping others, so her future job interests include the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, working in an animal hospital, or at a retail store.
“We know Natalie has a bright future because she will keep working hard and will keep reaching for her goals,” said Bellman.
For more information, please contact Jim Schuyler at (412) 872-9413.